Tag Archives: skiing

Everyone is a Shill Nowadays

Instagram is my little curated slice of the Internet.  It is filled with post after post of people living and recreating in the mountains.  It is essentially the life I would like to lead if I did not have things like a mortgage, children, and a general sense of long term fiscal responsibility.  Yes, I am so basic in that respect but basic pays the bills.

Instagram is also a cesspool of shills.  It seems like everyone is shilling for someone or something.  I find Mikaela Shiffrin to be an amazing athlete and my nine-year-old daughter is infatuated with her skiing exploits, but I know that she is shilling for Barila or Vail Resorts when she posts on Instagram.

Loki the Wolf Dog is shilling for Toyota or whoever else is sponsoring the latest adventure.

Heck, even hippies in vans are shilling for potato chips.

All is not lost because we can peer through the marketing noise for the message we truly care about.  I am genuinely curious about the results from World Cup ski races and my daughter hangs on every post Mikaela Shiffrin makes but the occasional Barila blast is not going to change my pasta buying habits.  I enjoy watching Loki the Wolf Dog tear down some backcountry slopes in the San Juan Mountains but I am not going to test drive a new Tacoma.

Once we recognize that everyone online is shilling for someone or something we take the power away from the marketers.

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Some Thoughts on Pocket Beers

Pocket beers are just one of the lower key aspects of skiing.  For all the people who spend near $10 for a draft at the top of the lifts there are a smaller number of hardy souls who take the route less traveled.   During the few minutes of isolation on a lift the pocket beer is produced.  It is consumed before unloading, sometimes shared, and the can is either stowed away or deposited discretely in a receptacle at the top.  Do not be the guy who tosses an empty somewhere on the mountain.

Over Spring Break I discovered that the pocket beer is looked down upon at Beaver Creek.  A fellow lift traveler looked at me as if I had told him that I was going to make America great again with my consumption of beer.  Perhaps it would have been more appropriate if I had broken out a single serve can of chardonnay.  Properly chilled of course.  Just kidding.  I would never drink chardonnay on a lift unless it was goon.  It’s an Australian thing.  Check it out.

Over the course of the week I thought about the nature of the pocket beer because I did not spend any time looking at the news, watching Netflix, or working.  It is amazing what you think about when left with your thoughts on a sunny Colorado afternoon in the spring.  Here are my conclusions:

  1. Pocket beers must be in cans. Like the beach, including the one at A Basin, and the pool glass should be a non-starter.  Bottles can break, the tops are another item to deal with, and it is harder to conceal a bottle in a gloved hand.  Oh sure, you could get by with an aluminum bottle but those are generally only purchased by people who are captive audiences at sporting events.  Don’t be that guy.
  2. Pocket beers should be shared. If you have more than one, offer a beer to a fellow lift rider.  If you only have one, offer a drink to a fellow lift rider if you know the person well.  Strangers might have a fear of your distinct brand of cooties.
  3. Pocket beers should not be craft beers. Yes, craft beer is ascendant and craft beer is a big deal in mountain communities.  However, with most high speed lifts only taking a few minutes to complete their runs there is no time to savor.  Reserve the craft beer for the après pint.
  4. Acceptable pocket beers:
    1. Rainier: Where do people find this stuff? I had not seen anyone drink Rainier since a childhood trip to the Pacific Northwest with my parents in the 1980s.  Sure enough it made an appearance this season on a lift at Keystone.
    2. Yuengling: I cannot stand this beer, but legions of East Coast ice skiers will scream if I do not include their favorite swill.
    3. Natural Light: The Natty is a legend among the hardy souls who ski the Midwest’s small hills. Purchased in containers with no fewer than 24 cans and usually 30 cans the Natty is the common currency of tailgates, impromptu backyard parties in your twenties, and pocket beers at Afton Alps.  Yes, it is swill but when the mercury is dropping below the 0 mark you do not have time to taste.
    4. Coors: Not that Coors Light garbage. When you are in Colorado and producing a pocket beer it should be the Banquet Beer.  The muted yellow can is iconic even if the beer inside is fairly mediocre.  It’s only brewed in Golden, which is off I-70 on the way into the mountains.  If you are chilling on the Peru Express lift, whip out a Banquet Beer, and enjoy your moment of perfection.

Embrace the pocket beer and the grungy soul of skiing before we are all left at mega-resorts staring at a menu of eye watering prices.  The pocket beer is the resistance.

Friday Linkage 1/27/2017

Just think, we are a little more than three years away from the 2020 Iowa caucuses.  Let that thought warm your soul as you watch Donald Trump soil the office of the President of the United States and his minions essentially crap on America.

On to the links…

Inside Trump’s Holdings: A Web of Potential Conflicts—The man is the living personification of potential political scandal.  Remember when Hilary Clinton’s problem was that there was perceived “pay to play” with regard to the Clinton Global Initiative, which was debunked in short order?  Where is the outrage at a sitting president who refuses to do anything substantive about his conflicts of interest?

President Trump Will Love This New Wind Energy Farm: It’s Huuuuuuger Than Anything In China—I prefer to think of this wind farm as yuge.  I wonder if renewables can get backing from Trump because they are amazing, so amazing.  The best in the world, really.  Big league.

What Would The Economic Impact Be If Everyone Installed Solar Panels?—Boy, wouldn’t this be a problem to have?

Turning Point: Solar Cheaper than Wind—This is for unsubsidized large scale or utility scale solar.  Amazing that power from the sun is now cheaper than wind and possibly cheaper than coal or natural gas.

Scotland Eyes 50% Renewable Energy by 2030 in Shift Away from North Sea Oil—Scotland is basically forced to do this because the North Sea oil fields are running dry.

Japan’s Solar Boom Is Accelerating—It’s like solar is reaching a tipping point where there is a positive feedback loop.  More installed solar leads to even more installed solar and so on and so forth.

Big Changes Brewing in the Wasatch—Even in deep red Utah, which has given us that rat fink Jason Chaffetz, a compromise has been reached with regard to development that most people in the area seem to be agreeable with.  Is this the new future?

Buffalo to be First Major American City to Eliminate Parking Requirements—Do you want to know why every place in America has huge parking lots that only seem full a couple days a year?  Zoning requirements.  Changing these requirements could mean building more dense developments and having actually walkable communities.

Hot Red Chili Peppers may be the Secret to Longer Life—If this is the case I should be doing well.

Friday Linkage 12/23/2016

This is it for 2016.  I would like to wish this year a gigantic f*ck you as it seemed like a real downer and I hold out hope that something in 2017 may redeem my faith in the United States.  Granted, this year was the moment when I saw the Chicago Cubs win the World Series which was something my father and grandfather never got to see.  Damn.

I sincerely hope that everyone enjoys the holiday season with their families.  Turn off the television, put down the phones, and spend a few minutes with the ones you love in pure analog bliss.

On to the links…

Skiing Is Not Important—Why don’t we lead off with a little philosophy.  It is totally true.  Skiing is not important in the “will I survive through the night” kind of way, but everyone should do it.  Or no one should do it.  I loved the following part of the article:

Mountain air, the smell of hot wax, the sound of cables on lift towers, laughing with friends, laughing at friends, testing your limits or just cruising and not testing anything at all, caring more about weather than you ever thought possible, sacrificing comfort, security, and relationships just to furrow fields of snowfall for no practical reason whatsoever.

Pretty much sums up the dream.

Winter Park Express Ski Train Adds Another Car to Meet Demand from Denver Union Station—You mean to say that people actually like and use mass transit when it goes to places people actually want to go?  Wow.

Trump, Putin and the Pipelines to Nowhere—I hope the carbon bubble becomes a thing in 2017.  Like investors fleeing coal, the same thing could happen to other fossil fuels if demand falls just enough to begin initiating the death spiral.  In a world that demands constant growth from investments this is a most powerful market force.

There is No Reason to Ever Build Another Coal Plant in the United States—Granted, there are a lot of coal plants in operation now.  Those plants, however, will get more expensive to fuel as coal demand drops and harder to maintain as the industrial base surrounding them erodes.

Coal’s Big US Stronghold is Losing Steam, Even as Trump Aims for a Revival—I cannot wait to see if Trump spends what little political capital he has—losing the popular vote by almost 3 million votes and entering office with the lowest favorability ratings in history do not make for a mandate—trying to revive coal as he promised on the campaign trail.  Now, he is a charlatan and a liar so he was probably just doing that to rile up people.

Solar is Top Source of New Capacity on the US Grid in 2016—This is demand destruction in process. Each solar panel or solar thermal facility represents another kilowatt of electricity that does not require a single gram of coal.

World Energy Hits a Turning Point: Solar That’s Cheaper Than Wind—Solar, with no moving parts and silent panels sucking up the sun, is actually cheaper than wind in some places.  Think about that for a minute.

All the State Energy Legislation from 2016, in One Place—Over the coming years the states and, to a lesser degree, cities are going to be where the action takes place on renewable energy.

Make Your Life Less Oily in 2017—Since the federal government is in the hands of fossil fuel crony capitalists, we have to take the initiative to reduce our use of fossil fuels.  This article serves as a nice starting point to figure out where the low hanging fruit might be.  Suggestion: get out your bicycle and pedal.

On Isle Royale, Park Service Intervenes to Save Nature—I am fairly conflicted about this intervention.  After reading The New Wild I wonder if our conception of nature has an ecosystem in harmony is relevant anymore.

Newly discovered soil microbes may have helped eat methane after Porter Ranch natural gas leak—The gas leak near Porter Ranch in southern California was a freaking ecological disaster of some truly epic proportions.  However, it looks like nature may have found a way to ameliorate some of the damage.  Nature always finds a way.

USDA says Use-By Labels aren’t Really Needed on Foods—Now I do not feel so guilty about using hot sauce that was past its “expiration” date.

New Belgium Slow Ride IPA

When you cut back on drinking beer you begin to curate your selection a little bit more because each bottle seems like part of a zero sum game. I did not give up drinking so much as curtail it down to a few bottles per week. Moderation if ever there was such a thing.

If there is one trend that has made it easier for me to stop brewing my own beer—never mind the entire drinking a lot less beer—has been the emergence of “session” IPAs. The adjective session has lost a lot of meaning in the past couple of years, which is no surprise given the wide ranging style differences that can occur under previously well understood definitions like IPA or stout.

New Belgium Brewery recently came out with Slow Ride IPA. It was debuted at Winter Park in January and made its national appearance soon after. BTW, New Belgium is now the official craft brewer for Winter Park. I think once craft breweries start becoming the “official brewery” of anything it means they are not really craft in the manner that many of us think.

Slow Ride is definitely a lighter IPA coming in at 4.5% ABV and 40 IBU:

New Belgium Slow Ride IPA

Slow Ride uses Mosaic, a well known hop variety, and Nelson Sauvin, which I had never heard of until visiting New Belgium’s website. It’s a hop grown in New Zealand. A lot of the descriptors sound like “Sideways” wine guy words, but it seems like the main current of description is that it is a fruity hop that imparts white wine like notes. Okay, I’ll bite but it seemed like a pretty standard dry hop profile to me when I drank a couple of bottles. Call me unsophisticated. It won’t hurt my feelings.

Slow RIde comes close to the golden ratio of 1:1 ABV to IBU that I have been fiddling with for a while now. If your beer is 4.5% ABV it should be 45 IBU. It seems to hold true that beers like this are very balanced if the body of the beer can hold up its end of the bargain.

This is where I feel like New Belgium beers have really been falling down lately. The body of the beers has been lacking. You could say the beers are thin, but for a product that is mostly water even in the thickest instances it is not really the most appropriate descriptor. What is lacking is interest. Some beers have it, even if the alcohol and bitterness are not at stratospheric levels, and a lot of other beers do not. This is where true brewing talent shines.

Overall, this is a solid effort and if you want something easy to drink on a warm day that actually tastes like beer grab a pint of Slow Ride:

Two Mug Purchase

Taking on New Challenges

What keeps us alive? I do not necessarily mean what keeps us physically alive—that can be done externally by machines—but rather what keeps us feeling alive. Alive, as in, the feeling we would get as kids when we first conquered riding a bicycle or when we were teenagers and the acceptance letter for our dream college arrived. Alive, like when we knew we met the person we would love forever and the feeling when we held our children for the first time.

What happens when we hit the major milestones? What breaks up the monotony of the rinse and repeat routine of work and home?

We fall into the routine because it is efficient. We eat the same types of dinner and go to the same restaurants. We watch the same television shows and go to bed at the same time. Before you realize it a couple of weeks have gone by or an entire month has expired or, god forbid, a whole year passes.

We keep telling ourselves that we are saving for retirement so that we can pursue our passions when we are done working. Why? Why do we have to wait until we are sixty five or older to do something that excites us?

The way we can feel alive again is to break out of the cycle of monotony. We need to make ourselves uncomfortable again. Do you remember the first time you walked into a college classroom, sat down, and wondered if you were really ready for the entire experience? If that was acceptable at eighteen years old why isn’t it acceptable to be that uncomfortable at forty?

It’s being uncomfortable with doing something and conquering that discomfort that allows us to feel like we are growing and changing. It’s the reason that at the tender age of thirty six I took up skiing with my seven year old daughter.

Do you know what is difficult to watch? A middle-age father of two trying to make it down the bunny hill without “yard sale-ing.” Or, having your daughter ask, “Daddy, why did it take you so long to get down the hill?”

In the end, however, I feel better about the day I spend struggling to learn to ski than I would about any other activity I might undertake during the winter. I come back sore and, hopefully, not bruised although I have returned with different parts of my body an unnatural blue color. I may be cold on the lift and scared when I tip over the lip of the run, but I drive home with a smile on my face and something new to work on the next day. Isn’t that what being alive is all about?